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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Alla Savchenko. Photo with patriotic symbols

    Alla Savchenko: “The only thing to think about is how to make the assignment hibernate happy in the current conditions. And then we will deal with the rest”

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation:

    9 June 2022

    Alla Savchenko is a native of Kramatorsk, the war caught her in the Dnipro, where she lived with her family in recent years. Share your experienced evacuation, mental fractures and new perspective on death.

    I was born in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, and in 2011 my husband and I moved to Dnipro. In 2016, our son was born. Before the pandemic, I had a small but successful international modeling agency. The pandemic struck her first blow, as the closure of model markets greatly reduced the number of agents to which models could be sent for contracts. For the last six months, until February 24, I was doing something else – investigating death, providing psychological assistance to those who lost loved ones.

    On February 24, I woke up in our house in Dnipro a few minutes before the first explosions. These are the worst moments of my life, because we have been in constant anxiety over the last few weeks because of a possible war.

    We have already survived 2014, when Kramatork fired, so we did not find such a possibility absurd. But we did not believe until the last minute that this would be a full-scale invasion. These days we are going to Georgia on vacation. And so, hearing the explosions, which shook the glass and read the news about the beginning of the special operation, it became clear that the war had begun. Real and great. I remember calling my parents in Kramatorsk at six in the morning and saying something like, “These people are going to bomb our whole country.” For some reason it was clear to me.

    Next week is like a fog. The incessant flow of news, friends who came to live with us from Kramatorsk and Kyiv, the stress that made me unable to swallow solid food, so I ate almost nothing and was very skinny. The feeling that everything is falling apart. My husband had a business – a coffee shop, a small confectionery shop. And just before the war, he invested in opening a production plant for roasting coffee. I have just started a new direction of work, which I still can not do because of my own psychological trauma.

    About a week later, we decided that it would be better for our child if we took him to a safer place. And it will be better for me, because I’m not going through it all very easily. The plan was to go together to Vinnytsia, rent a house there and wait for a while, from there to watch the developments.

    Family photo

    Alla Savchenko. Family photo. Holiday

    But everything did not go according to plan, because we will not find life in Vinnytsia. I do not want to rent an apartment to us, because we have a child, and the owner was worried that he could paint the sofa. We tried to agree to give bail, but she stopped picking up the phone. We lived for two days in the one-room apartment of an acquaintance of ours, he slept in the kitchen and gave us a bedroom. At this time, we decided what to do next. It was a very difficult decision and in two days my husband took me and my son to the border with Moldova, where we crossed the border on foot.

    I said goodbye to Ukraine and our happy life

    It was the second terrible morning: I was bored with excitement, we stopped on the way to the border. I got out of the car, shouted, cried, and hugged the trees. I said goodbye to Ukraine and our happy life.

    When we crossed the border, my son started crying and shouting: “Why that war? Why do I need to go? Why can’t Dad come with us? ”  It just broke my heart. But when I found myself in Moldova, I felt safe for the first time in 2 weeks. No explosions or air alarms. Through Romania we flew to Italy, and from there to Spain. The whole trip took us 5 days. In Ispini I have friends who have lived here for three years, and without their help it was simply impossible to settle here. The impact of war on one’s life is still no longer a pandemic. It’s very strange to watch. At this time, we received documents for temporary shelter, found housing for a long time, my son is already attending kindergarten. Spain is a wonderful warm and sunny country, but because of what is happening in Ukraine, we live somewhere as if in weightlessness, between the past and the future. Without definite plans without understanding when we will be able to implement. We miss our relatives.

    My mental fractures

    And the first of them: it’s a feeling of frustration at being somewhere “in between”. Somewhere between the old life and the new. It seems that my house is in the Dnipro, and I’m about to return there. At the same time, the life that is old is over, and to restore any semblance of a normal life is needed And when can I really go home? I do not know. In this “between”, as in a sticky fog, I do not understand where to go.

    A new life did not seem to have begun. How can it arise, are all the closest and dearest now in a country where people are hiding in mass graves? This is how you hang out somewhere “in between” with uncertain plans. That’s why the plan to prepare for the evening has become so important.

    And you know what else I’m in between: language. Language is a cultural code, for me personally, as a person who reads a lot and sometimes writes. This is an extremely important part of my life. And I was born with housing in the cultural code of the Russian language, and it was so cool to live in a country where you could speak and think calmly. Literature in Russian is a kind of block on which I have always relied so much. I don’t just speak Russian, I think Russian.

    “At the same time, in relation to life, in spirit, I am definitely Ukrainian. I understand this especially clearly now. For me, there is one scenario, for which I did not return to Ukraine – if it is absorbed by Russia”.

    I know this will not happen, but that is what I thought about the day I left for Moldova. Now I have a sense of paradox about language: Russia is freeing itself from everything connected with it, even from every language. I will not blame my soul: sometimes I am still bitter about it, as if I had already been evicted from the old house, and I have not yet managed to settle in the new one. But it is good that there is a new one. I think many Russian-speaking Ukrainians feel this now. I decided for myself that I would slowly settle in a new house. I will learn the Ukrainian language. Teach her. I know it well, but much worse than Russian, which I speak at a high level. Vocabulary is smaller and harder to speak. I will write notes for now. Read books in Ukrainian, study Ukrainian with your son. Because for me it is pure pleasure to hear someone speak a competent Ukrainian singer.

    Another strong awareness of the war days: a new view of death

    Nowadays, death has two forms for me: the metaphorical death I studied before the war. Which can be understood, reflected, accepted. And after it comes the amount of loss, and with it the new awareness. And a new death: a terrible belief in violence that devours everything in its path. Never talk about it, you need to get rid of it. And this understanding makes for me now any talk of death last. Grief is so all-encompassing, multi-layered that I still have plenty of time to know, pack and accept it.

    Third, I now know what fear is. He is, he is real. Everything I felt before cannot be compared to the fear that opens up at the beginning of the war, when I woke up from the explosions. This is animal fear. When you think that something terrible has happened, you have already realized that your old life is no more, but you still do not understand what awaits you. Surprisingly, I found some freedom in this feeling. Freedom of understanding that any development is possible, up to the worst. What was our mistake: we underestimated the extent of evil. Now its scale is clear. He is truly grand. But personally, it’s even easier for me. Somehow clearer.

    Alla Savchenko

    Alla Savchenko. Personal photo from the archive

    These are the same great dimensions of my world, which were formed a long time ago and the war did not change, but only confirmed their viability:

    FREEDOM: it is inside, if it is, it cannot be strangled from the outside.

    PEOPLE: more important than any ideas. This is an understanding that contradicts propaganda and fights against it. No idea can be more valuable than human life and freedom.

    EMOTIONS: all, all normal. Giving them a way out is the best thing you can do to support yourself. Accepting the heavy emotions of others is an unusual manifestation of love and wisdom.

    HATE: has the right to be. If your personality violates boundaries, and even more so threatens your existence and, it is normal to be angry to hate the one who does it. It is abnormal to hate for the sake of this feeling. It doesn’t matter who or why. This hatred, spread by propaganda and built on the search for an unknown enemy in the interests of tyranny, and led to today’s events.

    LOVE: Another kind of hatred is the other way around. We love our lives and the country in which we live. That is why we hate those who try to take them away from us. We love our children very much. Therefore, we protect them and hate those who kill them. We love freedom and hate those who try to deprive us of it. There will be peace, and we will LOVE again, stronger than ever.

    VALUE: I read somewhere, everything that can be used in a backpack in life. And even in your pocket. And even in the palm of your hand. Take the hand of the one you love and run. I have nothing to add here. I’ve always loved good things, but I’m not very attached to them. Now, sorting through my meager luggage, I realize that literally a couple of things from home are not enough for me to completely cover my needs. Pairs of favorite and important things from loved ones.

    INVALIBILITY: the ability not to hang labels is one of my pre-war skills. I must say, she shook a little. I have never used the mat style of evaluating people and the people who created it. But again, this skill is not completely broken. The more I come to myself, the less I hang labels.

    LOVE OF LIFE: it should be enjoyed if there is such an opportunity! Then, when it’s hard, it’s so nice to lean on this sweet from the past. The only thing I have now is to look at photos from the past, happy past. But you know, these tears are healing. I want to return to this past, and it is very valuable.

    SUPPORT: as practice has shown, around many people, whose actions and even words of support, can now be relied upon. Of course, no one will live your life and solve your problems for you, but if it is difficult right here and now, then the disease. This is what gives me hope and support.

    WEIGHTING DECISION: You know, the only thing you can’t look for in others is support from the decisions taken. Only your inner voice. And your determination. There is currently no right or wrong option. In the fight against the black funnel, cereals have the right to make their own decision: run, stay, be afraid, be brave. Everyone who goes through this and does not lose himself will gain great strength.

    I see that there are fractures, but they are not as catastrophic as they could be. Everything will grow. The patient is alive rather than dead. The only thing he is thinking about now is how to complete a task that is happy in all conditions. And then we’ll deal with the rest.

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation:

    Life under fire

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